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When seniors opt out of participation – I don’t get it

July 5, 2012

Today was a typical reaction for this particular northwest NJ Senior Nutrition Center’s group.  The day itself was hot, but the air inside was cool.

When I first entered the room the activities director was reading some heartfelt letters sent to them by soldiers, yet most of the group was not paying much attention. I could tell from their reaction to her what my time slot was going to be like.

Like always, I talked a bit about the benefits of movement and how exercise improves the quality of their everyday lifestyle and so on.. Today I got more than a few looks that silently said “blah blah blah…  yeah -yeah -yeah”.

So I cut that part short and started in with the warm-up movements.  I asked a few who have done the program before if they would work with me today.  I got a few blank stares, a few definite no’s and at least one “we just did exercise on Tuesday”.

I got three of the regulars to start in with me.  Luckily I had one guest who joined in also.  So in effect I had 4 people out of 20 participating in something they all kind of agreed would be good for them while the rest did nothing.

What I don’t get (or understand) is why are they are like this.  The people complain they are stiff and sore, have bad balance, can’t do a good portion of what they want to do because of physical ailments and a host of other issues. Whereas some exercise would fix a portion of these problems with very little effort.

It would make some difference if I saw them do something else while I was putting on the program.  A few did played cards. The overwhelming majority of those not participating  just sat there for an hour doing nothing. Not looking around, just sat like lumps on a log as my mom used to say, Staring off into space.

By the end, some others did join in, making 10 out of the whole group participating.  Some who came in late joined right in while others just the sit and stare brigade.

I realize this sounds like a trash talk about this certain group, however it is meant for anyone who would rather sit and do nothing to help themselves  than participate in a program brought to them. Especially when they they see that their peers, with similar complaints and problems are able to take part and enjoy the exercises.

Comments and insight on this issue would be welcomed!

One Comment
  1. Hi Stan
    It’s been pretty hot here too, and while inside it is cooler the heat is still is hard on everyone, especially the elderly. Is this a normal reaction or perhaps just an anomaly due to everyone feeling a bit wiped out?
    I sometimes switch up the class if I see that folks are too tired or not interested in a lot of physical work. You could try some fingers and hand Qigong to get them started while sitting in a chair. When that works, it might get them feeling a bit more like moving.
    You could do the “birds beak” or tiger claws. or touch the wall, paint a circle on the wall , ankle circles ( while sitting) reaching for the heaven and the earth, pick up the needle at the sea bottom. Almost all Tai Chi can be done seated.. If you give them an alternative, it just might encourage them to participate.


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